(1906) Gallus lafayettii.
THE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL.
Gallus lafayettii Lesson, Traits d'Orn.. p. 491 (1831) (India). Gallus lafayetti. Blanf. & Oates, iv. p. 77.
Vernacular names. Weli-kukula, Weli-kikili (Cing.): Kada-Koli (Tam.).
Description.— Adult male. Crown dull orange-rufous; feathers at base of naked throat rich violet-purple; hackles on neck and upper back orange-yellow, shading into this from the rufous head and again into fiery orange-red on the back, the yellow feathers with black central streaks and the red with rich maroon; lower back and rump darker, almost copper-red, the centres to the feathers deep violet-blue; the central and least lanceolate feathers have a broad terminal patch of violet-blue ; a few of the longest tail-coverts black, narrowly edged fiery-red ; tail black, glossed with deep blue or blue-green; lesser wing-coverts like the neck, grading into the median, which are like the back; greater coverts black, mottled rufous and black on the concealed portions; breast and flanks like the back, the short feathers near the abdomen rufous-chestnut with broad black terminal bands; vent and centre of abdomen dull brown-black with paler tips ; thighs black, the feathers fringed chestnut; under tail-coverts glossy blue-black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light golden-yellow ; face, throat and wattles livid or purplish-red, comb bright red with a large interior yellow patch; bill brownish-red, the tip and lower mandible paler ; legs and feet wax-yellow to pale yellowish-brown.
Measurements. Wing 216 to 241 mm.; tail 230 to 406 mm.; tarsus about 80 to 88 mm.; culmen about 20 to 23 mm. Weight 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 lb.
Female. Forehead dull rufous-red; crown dull brown with fine black specks; nape, sides of neck and sparse feathers of throat dull rufous; mantle blackish-brown with pale shaft-streaks and golden-buff edgings; remainder of upper plumage pale buff, rufous-buff: or rufous-brown vermiculated all over with black, the tail more boldly marked with black glossed with green and the greater coverts boldly barred with black and pale buff; primaries and outer secondaries pale brown mottled on the outer webs with black and buff ; inner secondaries vermiculated brown and buff in the centre, boldly barred with black and buff on both webs and showing chestnut marks here and there; a black patch below the throat; upper breast and flanks vermiculated black and rufous-brown ; remainder of abdomen, breast and thigh-coverts white, each feather edged with black and with black bars near the base.
Colours of soft parts. Iris olive-yellow; bill dark brown above, yellowish below ; legs and feet brownish-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 165 to 183 mm.
Young males like the female but more rufous below.
Distribution. Ceylon only.
Nidification. The Ceylon Jungle-fowl breeds throughout the year and Wait has taken or seen eggs in every month. The nesting of this Jungle-fowl is very peculiar, for it builds its nest more often off the ground than on it. A favourite site is a high stump of a dead tree, the top of which has been hollowed out by weather, but Parker took one nest, possibly an old nest of a Hawk or Crow, 30 feet from the ground. Every collector except Legge refers to this curious habit and it seems to be well known to the natives. Occasionally eggs are found on the ground but this is exceptional. The number of eggs laid is two or three, very rarely four and the large clutch of nine eggs found by Beebe must have been arranged for him. Even fours are so rare that in nearly fifty years' collecting I have failed to get a four clutch and Wait has seen but one. This, however, exactly what we should expect to find once we are acquainted with its peculiar nesting-habits. The eggs are unlike those of other Jungle-fowl in being almost invariably well spotted and freckled with light reddish or dull purple-grey ; generally the markings are minute and numerous everywhere, sometimes larger and more scanty. Forty eggs average 46.3 x 34.5 mm.: maxima 49.5 x 39.8 mm.; minima 42.1 X 35.0 and 43.1 x 32.0 mm.
This species is apparently polygamous and takes no interest in eggs or chicks.
Habits. The Ceylon Jungle-fowl is a resident bird alike in the plains of Ceylon and in the highest hills, and frequents any sort of forest-, scrub- or bamboo-jungle. They are as pugnacious as the Red Jungle-fowl and are often enticed within shot by imitating the sound of their wings clapping together, a challenge, with their call of " chuck-joy-joysee," to all other cocks within hearing. They feed on the same miscellaneous menu as the other species and are said to be often caught intoxicated from having eaten the seeds of the common Strobilanthes.